Thursday, September 07, 2000

Two school districts awarded Gates grants

By Andrea Tortora
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Six high schools in the Cincinnati and West Clermont school districts will benefit from more than $2.3 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Cincinnati's KnowledgeWorks Foundation.

        The grants, announced Wednesday, will help restructure the schools into smaller learning communi ties.

        Cincinnati Public Schools will receive $1.5 million for work at four undetermined high schools. West Clermont will get $800,000 for its two high schools, Glen Este and Amelia. The money is earmarked for planning and teacher training.

        The districts will also share up to $250,000 from KnowledgeWorks — a philanthropic association dedicated to removing barriers to edu cation — to involve their communities in redesigning schools.

        Tom Vander Ark, Gates Foundation education director, said the grants are intended to help schools become places where all students can achieve.

        “We looked for leadership and people who are passionate in helping all students achieve, and we found those qualities in Cincinnati and West Clermont,” Mr. Van der Ark said.

        Schools do not apply for the grants. The Gates Foundation searched for what it considers the best examples of leadership in redesigning schools. At least three dozen schools nationwide were selected.

        Cincinnati will also receive $450,000 as part of a $5.7 million Gates Foundation grant to the University of Washington to develop small-model high schools in eight urban school districts.

        West Clermont Superintendent Michael Ward said the grant is a verification of what parents, teachers and community members worked for. A committee at Glen Este High School spent last year creating a design plan for restructuring. Amelia High School is testing a freshman academy that focuses on basic education requirements this year for half of its ninth graders.


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